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India to grant medical visas for deserving Pakistanis

In a major humanitarian move and a Diwali gift to the people of Pakistan, India has decided to grant medical visas “in all deserving cases” to those desperately ill Pakistanis needing urgent treatment in India and whose visa applications were pending till Diwali-eve.

The move was announced by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the occasion of Diwali, the festival of lights and the most important festival in the Hindu calendar.

Ms. Swaraj took the decision after a torrent of requests in recent days from relatives of ill Pakistanis.

A majority of applicants are those needing liver transplant surgery.

But applicants also include those needing bone marrow transplant. Recently, a visa was granted to 5-year-old Pakistani girl suffering from eye Cancer.

“On the auspicious occasion of Deepawali, India will grant medical Visa in all deserving cases pending today,” Ms. Swaraj announced, on the stroke of Diwali.

India had decided a few months ago that Pakistani nationals seeking visas for medical treatment in India must accompany their visa applications with a recommendation letter by then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s foreign policy advisor Sartaj Aziz.

But with the Pakistani government led by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi now in place and a different set of ministers,

Ms. Swaraj has been ordering grant of medical visas to Pakistanis desperately in need of medical treatment in India.

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